LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Despite public outcry, the city of Albuquerque ultimately decided to move forward with sanctioned homeless camps. While it’s a first for the city, those camps are not new in New Mexico. For the last 11 years, Camp Hope in Las Cruces has given thousands of homeless people a safe place to stay. “It’s also kept them from sleeping in business doorways, instead they have their own safe space right here next to Community of Hope where they can access a variety of services,” said Nicole Martinez, Executive Director, Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.

Camp Hope is a sanctioned homeless camp where each resident gets assigned their own tent site, helps keep the property clean, and agrees to follow a specific set of rules. “You won’t have any physical threats, verbal threats. No drug or alcohol use on the property,” said Martinez. She says the cleanliness and rules set well-run sanctioned camps apart from pop-up camps like the one that took over Albuquerque’s Coronado Park.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller fought back against the city council wanting the city to open sanctioned homeless camps saying they need another way to fight homelessness. However, people living near the two sites approved so far are not excited about what’s to come.

Martinz says when they were creating Camp Hope in 2011, they heard similar complaints. “We did have some push back from some of the businesses that were concerned about having people on the property 24/7. That said, we already had people who were sleeping here on the property 24/7, they just were doing it without any rules or any supervision,” said Martinez.

She says Camp Hope’s oversight actually made the site safer and continues to help improve the lives of people who stay there. Many residents are able to get back on their feet and into permanent housing. “It’s a testament to how many people we’ve sheltered at Camp Hope… who’ve come back to volunteer at camp hope,” said Martinez. She says she is hopeful the sanctioned homeless camps now allowed to open in Albuquerque can make a similar impact.